Do you have a tug on your heart, a nagging feeling that you’re supposed to write a book?
If so, then it’s more than likely that the Holy Spirit is calling you to share your story! But how do you write a book when you don’t know what to write about? This blog will help you start your book when you don’t know what to write about.
When I was a brand new writer, I had this haunting sense that I needed to write a book, but I didn’t know where or how to begin. I had so many ideas. I was kind of excited about all of them. And I was kind of meh about all of them too.
Eventually, I decided to write my memoir first. It’s called Twelve Clean Pages. And I went with that first because it seemed more urgent than any of my other ideas. But it also seemed like it would be the hardest to write. And it was. Every book I have written since has become easier and easier.
When it came to writing my second book, I had a few ideas, but I couldn’t decide again.
I wanted to try something different this time that reflected on my time teaching in the public school system. I went with something I thought was clever. So, I decided on Goal Minors, which talked about kids that go after big accomplishments. Yes, yes, I know, it was corny.
However, I had a full book proposal that was ready to go and I did not want to give up on it. After an entire year of working with my agent to refine my proposal to submit it to traditional publishers, I could honestly tell that he hated it. And by then, I hated it too.
We scrapped the whole idea and started fresh. I worked hard and sent my agent a new book proposal for a book for Christians in need of hope during hard times. My agent loved it! And it eventually found a home with a publisher and became Hunting Hope.
After the second book, every single book has been created from the seed of an idea that was already there. I have not had the struggle that I had with my first two. But I understand what it feels like to be where you are right now. And here are five things I tried that will help you zero in on your book topic:
- Pray and Ask the Holy Spirit
Often, you feel a strong desire to write a book because He wants you to write a book. And if you spend time intentionally seeking Him in fasting and prayer, He may tell you what that book needs to be. I remember pulling away in a hotel room for one night a couple of times over the years to focus on prayer for this reason. Honestly, I didn’t hear a clear word the first few times, but more than once, I truly did.
2. Review Your Journal
I don’t write a full daily account in a journal like I did when I was a kid, but I do take notes when I am reading in the Bible in the morning. And I also bring a notebook and take notes during the sermon at church. More often than not, reviewing these journals and notebooks gives me seed ideas for books. You might just find something you feel called to write about when you read over the thoughts you’ve written about in the past!
3. Think About Your Ideal Reader
What kind of person can you imagine writing a book for? Start thinking about them, and ask yourself what they need. Remember my book, Goal Minors? I came up with that idea because I thought about my ideal reader and what she would like to read a book about. Start thinking about the person you want to help and write down some thoughts about what they need help with.
4. Play Around
Action creates clarity, and inaction creates confusion. The more you sit and think without doing anything, the more you will stay stuck spinning in indecision. So, play around. Get some words on paper. Let yourself feel light and noncommittal. Just jot down some ideas on some paper and use different pages to group together ideas that are similar. Then, review them and see what shows up.
5. Talk to Someone
Why not invite a friend or two to coffee and ask them what they would like to read a book about? You could even post a shout-out on social media. Brainstorming with others unlocks ideas that you never would have thought up on your own. It gives you insight into what others really want to read about, not just what you think they want to read about.
Writing a book is a special calling for those who are ready to accept the Lord’s assignment. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy! When you feel that tug on your heart that you’re meant to write a book, but don’t know what to write about, don’t give in to discouragement. Allow the Lord to guide you in discovering what He wants you to write about and trust that He will partner with you as you walk through the writing process together.
If you found this article helpful, I invite you to share it with others who may benefit from the insights! Your journey to writing a book starts with a simple “Yes, Lord, I will obey!”
Interested in reading more? Take a look at the blog for more ideas, tips, and how-to's!
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